The financial hardships that hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand faced in his last days, before succumbing to cancer at the age of 74, is a story that many hockey players in the country can relate to.
Hockey players hailing from poor families are often strapped for cash required to treat diseases and injuries sustained during the course of their sporting careers.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the state, a Betul-based organisation has come forward to provide insurance cover to help 30 such hockey players from the district.
The inspiration for this novel initiative does not come from the social security insurance scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 9, but from the life of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand himself.
The Betul-based organisation, aptly named Dhyan Chand Foundation, will provide insurance cover to 30 hockey players from Betul on May 26 - the day India registered its first victory in the game in the 1928 Olympics.
It will also provide a certificate containing an old signature of Chand.
Chand’s son Ashok Dhyan Chand says: “Babuji (Major Dhyan Chand) didn’t want me to become a player. Despite bringing laurels for the country, he faced a lot of problems towards the end of his life and he always wanted his children to become officers rather than hockey players. In his time, there was no security to the players. It’s a very good initiative being taken for the first time by any organisation.”
Dhyan Chand Foundation’s convener Hemant Dubey said the Indian hockey scene is witnessing changes but still the game has “no money”.
“There are many players in India who left their games after injuries as they could not afford treatment. Even I left my game following an injury in the knee which later turned into a lymphocyte cancer. Players who come from a humble background are worried about the treatment of injuries and their future. So, we have decided to give them security in the form of insurance.”
According to Dubey, the foundation will provide two types of insurance: accidental and life insurance of Rs 2 lakh each.
“In case of any accident on the turf as well outside the turf, they could treat themselves with insurance,” he says.
Dubey says the foundation has submitted a proposal to United Insurance Company and the scheme is likely to be finalised in 2-3 days. He adds that the foundation will provide insurance to 30 players from Betul and would consider expanding it later.
National hockey player from Madhya Pradesh Nitin Malviya, who is one of the players to be chosen for the insurance cover, says: “I belong to a very poor family. My family is always anxious about my future as we can’t afford medical expenses in case of any accident. The insurance cover will not only motivate me to play fearlessly but also give security to my life.”